Robin van Persie has scored four league goals in his seven appearances this season, a pretty good return for any forward. That being said, there is a feeling that he’s not in the best form and that perhaps his role has shifted somewhat under David Moyes.
Robin van Persie statistical comparison
|Chance conversion||Chances created per game||Passes per game||Tackles per game||Defensive actions per game|
|Van Perise 2013/14||18.2%||0.1||19||0.4||1|
|Van Persie 2012/13||22%||1.8||27||0.6||2|
Robin van Persie’s goal against Southampton on Saturday was his first from open play for the club in the Premier League since the opening day of the season. We can see more generally though quite a large drop in form, with van Persie being less clinical in front of goal, but crucially creating far fewer chances per game, in fact RvP has created just one chance this season.
The other stats though show that he has possibly changed his role. Firsly, he is attempting less passes per game, only 19 per game this season, eight fewer than he’d attempted per game last season. This implies that he is linking the play less, or at least less effectively this season, a view compounded by the lack of chances he has created. His defensive contribution also suggests that he is perhaps playing farer up the field with just one defensive contribution per game and 0.2 less tackles per game. The latter is a negligible difference but it adds to the picture of a player whose role has changed somewhat.
The statistics suggest that RvP is now playing as a goal hanger and not dropping deep as much as he did last year. The reduction in the number of passes he is playing hints at an increasing isolation. This might be more tactical though, than being purely his own fault. Below we can see his action-areas from the 3-0 win at Aston Villa last year, a game in which he netted a hat-trick:
We can see that he was dropping very deep in this game. Really getting involved in the play, in a game which he scored three times and also completed 27 passes (his average for last season). This is in stark contrast to the game against Southampton as we can see here:
He scored a goal in this game but as we can see spent more time in the opposition box and less time in the deeper areas. He also only completed 14 passes in this tie, showing how limited his link-up play was, in comparison to his influence last season. This isn’t a one-off as we can see from the general trend in RvP attempting less passes and creating less chances as a whole. Whether David Moyes is telling RvP to play a different way is still uncertain, but there certainly appears to be a trend emerging here.
Robin van Persie has not been playing as well this season as he did last year. His drop in chance conversion and the fact that he has struggled to score from open play also confirms this view. There is however evidence here to suggest that his role has changed for United. Wayne Rooney is playing alongside him as a striker, rather than as a no.10 per se, with RvP playing as a stand alone goal hanging striker, a view confirmed by a reduction in the number of passes per game. Van Persie is arguably becoming a more isolated figure for Manchester United and David Moyes might get more out of his forward if he allows him to get more involved with United’s all round game, given the obvious creative contribution he made last year, with 1.8 chances created per game.